(He constructed, on Baba's orders, a residential quarters called "Sathe wada" in
Shirdi for the convenience of the visiting pilgrims & was the first person to construct
a wada. He also sent Megha to Shirdi who introduced congregational worship to Baba.)
Hari Vinayak Sathe was born in 1855. H.V.Sathe became a Deputy Collector and then
Land Seperintendent at the time of his retirement.Sathe would be remembered for
two great services rendered in Shirdi. The first service was to provide residential
accommodation in Shirdi for the devotees visiting Shirdi for Baba’s darshan and
for this purpose he constructed a residential complex called Sathewada which he
constructed in 1905-06. This gave immense relief and comfort for the devotees visiting
Shirdi. Prior to the construction of Sathewada, visiting pilgrims had to stay in
the houses or hovels and sometimes under the shade of trees as Shirdi was a small
village at that time. The second service he provided in the masjid, was introducing
congregational worship by the devotees through Megha whom he had sent to Shirdi.
Till then, the devotees were performing individual worship only, to Baba and there
was no congregational worship to Baba. Sathe had sent one by name Megha to Shirdi.
Megha was an illiterate orthodox Brahmin, devoted to the Service of Lord Shiva.
Sathe told Megha that Baba was an incornation of Shiva and that Megha could perform
his devotional service to Baba. It was Megha who started the congregational service
to Baba and became the first pujari to Baba and devoted bhakta. Baba liked Megha
Sathe had lost his wife when he was 44 years and had a daughter but no son. Though
friends pressed him for second marriage, he was reluctant as he was nearing 50 years
and was not sure of getting a son. His friend, Barve, the Mamlatdar of Kopergaon
taluk, took him to Shirdi in April, 1904 and both had darshan of Baba. Barve told
Baba about the marital position of Sathe and his desire to have a son. Baba immediately
said if Sathe got married again, Allah would bless him with a son. Again a very
famous astrologer visited Poona where he was working and told him about his past
and his daughter correctly and that he would get a son by his second wife after
his 50th year. Then Sathe was transferred to Ahmedabad .
One by name Ganesh Damodar who was called Dada Kelkar was in search of a groom for
his daughter and wrote a letter to Sathe, enquring whether any
suitable groom was available in Ahmedabad for his daughter. Sathe thought that this
must be an act of Baba and hence he wrote back to Kelkar saying that no groom was
available in Ahmedabad except himself and it was for Kelkar to decide taking into
consideration his age and other pros & cons. Kelkar readily agreed at this proposal.
However, Sathe insisted that Baba should see the girl and approve for the marriage.
Kelkar being an orthodox Brahmin was not in favour of approaching Baba whom he considered
as a Mulsim saint and instead was willing to consult any Brahmin saint. However,
Sathe insisted on consulting Baba and then Kelkar took his daughter to Shirdi and
Baba on seeing the girl blessed her and told Kelker to send her to Ahmedabad at
which Kelkar was very much surprised and felt extremely happy. Sathe married her
in 1906 in his 50th year. During first seven years, he got two daughters first and
then a son was born in 1913.
Dada Kelkar was also instrumental in starting Gurupoornima day celebrations in Shirdi.
However it was not clear as to when the celebrations were first started whether
in 1908 or 1909.
On Baba’s desire, Sathe purchased a piece of land near the neem tree under which
Baba had performed his penance earlier and wanted to construct a residential quarters
for the use of pilgrims who would be visiting Shirdi for the darshan of Baba. Pilgrims
accommodation in Shirdi was a big problem in those days.An interesting thing about
the laying of the foundation stone for this Sathewada deserved to be mentioned.
A day was fixed by Baba for this purpose and Sathe was not informed and he was not
aware. But Sathe on his own left for Shirdi with Bere. However, Baba was aware of
Sathe’s arrival in Shirdi and told Kelkar, his father in law that Sathe would be
in Shiridi on the day fixed for starting foundation work. Sathe & Barve reached
Shirdi on the day fixed for laying of the foundation stone and Sathe was very happy
that he came to Shirdi at the right time. However, Baba was not in favour of any
formal foundation ceremony with pomp and gaity. In 1908, there was an obstruction
in the construction of Sathewada. Baba when first came to Shirdi, was meditating
sitting under the neem tree which was considered sacrosanct. The branches of this
neem tree were obstructing the construction work. Hence Baba asked the people to
cut the obstructing branches. But no body came forward to do this and then Baba
himself cut the branches, facilitating the construction work of Sathewada.Sathe
got the residential
quarters constructed in 1908, including the old village wall as per Baba’s desire.
These residential quarters were called Sathewada.
Sathe did not approach Baba for his religious and spiritual upliftment and hence
did not improve much spiritually. But Baba on his own kindness corrected him from
his errors and put him on the right path. Off and on, he was exhibiting too much
anger. In all these matters, Baba was immediately intervening, controlling and advising
him suitably. In 1905 with Baba’s Grace, there was however a change in Sathe’s life
for the better. Sathe frequently visited Shirdi between 1906 to 1919. Sathe did
so many other minor things interfering in the internal matters of Shirdi village
and incurred the displeasure of Shirdi residents who developed hatred and hostility
towards Sathe which he faced boldly with the ever vigilant guidance and protection
from Baba. At the instance of some of the villagers in Shirdi who were jealous of
his official position, Nanavalli became furious and started harassing Sathe. Sathe
was so afraid that he fled Shirdi after getting Baba's permission to leave. This
happened in 1916 and he never came back to Shirdi again while Baba was alive. But
he settled in Poona with permission from Baba. Baba continued his blessings, guidance
and advice to Sathe even in Poona. One instance is quoted here to show how Baba
was helping him continuously. In 1914, Kaka Maharaj, a famous Sadhu living in Dhupeshwar
arrived in Poona.Though Sathe invited him to his house, he declined. But after a
few hours, the Sadhu himself sent words to Sathe, agreeing to visit his house and
this was due to Baba’s intervention which Sadhu told Sathe later when he visited
Sathe did not get much encouragement in his job and at one time, he was not in favour
of continuing the job and told Baba accordingly. But Baba advised him to be with
patience and wait for some more time. After a few months, he got elevated in his
position and got a posting as Land Superintendent in Kolhapur with increased salary
with scope of higher pension. However at the time of retirement, Sathe had difficulty
in getting full pension sanctioned but with Baba’s blessings, he got full pension
settled and released.
When B.V Narasimha Swamiji interviewed Sathe in 1936, he was 81 years. Sathe told
Narasimhaswami about the importance of Sathewada and said that Kelkar also lived
in Sathewada, Jog did daily parayan in Sathewada, Khaparde also wrote part of his
diary in this Sathewada and Arti was also
performed regularly to Baba’s picture kept in this Sathewada. In 1924, Sathewada
was bought by R.S.Navalkar and his heirs gave it to Sansthan in 1939. In about 1941,
Sansthan added four more rooms for the use of pilgrims and part of the wada was
there upto 1998 and was used by Sansthan as an administrative office. Later it was
pulled down when Temple complex was modified. Thus great service was rendered by
Sathe to Baba and for the comfort of the pilgrims.